Taphonomic signatures of a new Upper Triassic phytosaur (Diapsida, Archosauria) bonebed from India: aggregation of a juvenile-dominated paleocommunity

Article Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology


A monotaxic bonebed containing numerous phytosaur specimens is reported from the Upper Triassic Tiki Formation of India. The comprehensive minimum number of individuals is estimated to be 21, which includes multiple juveniles and subadults, and only a few adults. Such intraspecific aggregation of juvenile-dominated phytosaurs is explained here by parental care and juveniles living in cohorts, as are evident from extant phylogenetic bracketing of either lepidosaurs or crocodiles and birds. The cause of this mass death is probably disease related, after which the carcasses bloated, floated, and disarticulated at the site of death, resulting in an autochthonous assemblage. The carcasses remained submerged under shallow, slow-moving or standing water for a prolonged time and later were subaerially exposed after the recession of water. Subsequently, flooding events resulted in their burial under the overbank fines. Comparison of biostratinomic variables with those of a rhynchosaur-dominated bonebed recovered previously from the same stratigraphic horizon showed distinct differences in their causes of death and fossilization pathways. The latter may be attributed to their habitat differences because the phytosaurs lived in the low-lying areas or ponds and the rhynchosaurs resided on relatively higher and drier areas of the Tiki floodplain.



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